Sunday, June 27, 2010

NBA Draft 2010 Winners

It goes without saying that any team which got a member of the Spectacular Seven was a draft day winner.

Let's take a look at some other teams and evaluate what they did in the draft.

Click the link on players' names to see highlights.


By far, the biggest winner of the 2010 NBA Draft was the Milwaukee Bucks. In the first round they got Larry Sanders from Virginia Commonwealth University (15). Sanders is a 6-11 power forward who should start for Milwuakee.

Looking at the Bucks' roster, it is hard to believe that a team with that many holes actually made the playoffs.

And speaking of holes, it seems that they filled every single one of them in the past week alone.

To compete with Sanders for the starting power forward spot is Keith "Tiny" Gallon out of Oklahoma (47). At 6-9 and 300 pounds, Gallon has size and skills. He can be as good as he wants to be in the NBA.

These two players will bolster Milwaukee's front line and make them much deeper and a force to be reckoned with next season. Gallon is way better than the 47th best player in this draft.

In another draft night heist, Milwuakee also stole Darington Hobson out of New Mexico (37).

Either this is an incredibly deep draft and I just don't see it or a bunch of teams made a huge mistake in not drafting Darington Hobson.

It is incredible that he was still on the board in the second round. At 6-7, he has the same type of skills as Evan Turner only not as much speed.

The Bucks deserve an enormous amount of credit for the draft they pulled off.

All three of these guys are players and should get minutes as rookies. They increase team depth and overall talent and with the addition of Corey Maggette give Milwaukee a chance to compete with anybody.

Michael Redd's recovery becomes crucial. With the additions the team has made, a healthy Redd could take the Bucks deep into the playoffs.


Another team which had a great draft night is the Detroit Pistons. Detroit first drafted 6-11 Greg Monroe from Georgetown (7).

I have questions about Monroe's competitive fire, especially on defense, and athleticism; so I want to watch him play more before making a judgment on how good he will be.

That being said, there are some things which he can do now which will help the Pistons. He can rebound, pass and score.

He also averaged 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals in two years in DC, which means that he is at least aware of what is going on on the defensive end. He'll help the Pistons in many ways and fits in nicely with the players they already have.

In the second round Detroit selected Terrico White from Ole Miss (36). The 6-5 shooting guard improves Detroit's talent level and should contribute immediately.

White is another player who I can't believe was available in the second round. He has a lot of game. These two players should lead the Pistons back to the playoffs.

White's highlights start at 3:23.


The Clippers started things off by selecting 6-9 Al-Farouq Aminu from Wake Forest (8).

They then traded for 6-1 point guard Eric Bledsoe of Kentucky (18) and selected 6-4 shooting guard Willie Warren from Oklahoma (54).

I'm not really a big fan of either player yet, but each of them increases the overall talent level of the Clippers' team.

More needs to be seen more from each player before it can be determined what this talent increase means for the Clips in terms of wins and losses. But good things should follow any time a team can add three talented players like this in one draft.

I also like the Orlando Magic selection of 6-10 center Daniel Orton, Kentucky (29); the Miami Heat selection of 6-10 center Dexter Pittman, Texas (32); and the New York Knicks' drafting of 6-5 guard Andy Rautins, Syracuse (38).

As will soon be seen, this was far from a one- or two-player draft.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Spectacular Seven: NBA Draft 2010 Wrap Up

In my last article I projected the 2010 NBA Draft.

I did it by taking only the best players available, the "Spectacular Seven," and putting them onto rosters according to my own analysis of where they should go based on winning now, team needs and real player analysis minus hype.

Now that the draft is over, it is time to discuss where the players actually landed and look forward to the upcoming NBA season.

The members of the Spectacular Seven are John Wall, Evan Turner, Wesley Johnson--The Matrix: Reloaded, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Luke Babbitt, and Hassan Whiteside. Trevor Booker was also a sleeper added to the list.

Click the link on the players' names to see their highlights.

Only one of my projections was accurate, Johnson to the Timberwolves, but as I stated in the article, it was never my intent to predict the draft, only to give my thoughts on where the players should go using the above method of thinking.

So let's take a look the Spectacular Seven and their new digs.

1) Washingtion Wizards--John Wall, Kentucky

This was expected months ago. The "experts" have been telling us all along how great John Wall is and how he is the undisputed best player in this draft and how it is not even close.

Either the Wizards believed the hype, they plan to get rid of Gilbert Arenas or they think Wall and Arenas can play together in the same back court.

I have a lot of respect for Wizards' GM Ernie Grunfeld from the Sprewell-Camby team he built with the New York Knicks, a team which went to the Finals in 1999.

He is a great evaluator of talent, so it is hard for me to believe that he bought into the John Wall hype.

It is equally hard for me to believe that he thinks Arenas and Wall can play together in the same back court. That leaves only one conclusion: The Wizards plan to get rid of Gilbert Arenas.

This is supported by the fact that Washington also acquired point guard Kirk Hinrich from the Chicago Bulls on draft day.

I can't say that I blame Grunfeld.

As much as I love Arenas, I wrote in my last article that when healthy and not involved in antics from the OK Corral, Arenas is one of the best players in the NBA. The problem is that his health and his Wyatt Earp shenanigans have kept him off the court basically for the last three seasons.

That is a very long time, and when you have the number one pick in the NBA Draft, you can't wait around for your superstar, no matter who he is, to get his act together.

Arenas is no longer dependable, and the last thing anyone wants is to have to depend on someone who can't be depended on. Grunfeld had to make a move.

The Wizards also got my 2010 sleeper, Trevor Booker from Clemson (23). Booker has a chance to start right away at power forward for Washington because the team desperately needs a rebounder and Booker's toughness.

I like both picks, but I won't know how good the the team will be until they finish making their moves and clear the logjam at point guard (Arenas, Kirk Hinrich, Wall).

2) Philadelphia 76ers--Evan Turner, Ohio State

The worst part about the Wizards' selection of John Wall is that the Sixers don't get the point guard they need.

Jrue Holiday is about as fast as Mark Jackson.

I've never liked slow point guards, so I desperately wanted Philadelphia to end up with Wall. That way, Holiday could be moved to shooting guard.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

Fortunately for them, Evan Turner was available. He is as good as any player in this draft, and Philadelphia is lucky to get him.

I've continued to watch video on Turner over the past several days and have come to the conclusion that he is even better than I thought he was.

He has a level of cleverness to his game which is very sneaky and gives him even more of an edge beyond his skills and athleticism, and his streetball dribble moves, incredible at his size, make him almost unstoppable.

The Sixers have many bodies at the two and three spots, and with a mediocre coach like Doug Collins, all that does is increase the likelihood that he will make the wrong playing-time decisions.

I see Holiday as more of a two than a one, so I'll still say that the Sixers need a point guard to reach their ultimate potential.

As it stands, they look like a team which can make the playoffs.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves--Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

One of the most beautiful things in the world is when exactly what you need falls right into your lap. That is what happened with Minnesota and Wesley Johnson.

Minnesota needed a small forward who could put the ball in the basket, and that is exactly what they got.

They now have four magnificent pieces in place--Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer--not counting Ricky Rubio, and are ready to take the next step by competing to make the playoffs.

Johnson will improve their defense as well.

In order to become the best player he can be Wesley Johnson will need work on his dribble-penetration moves.

When he develops the ability to put the ball on the floor and dribble past opponents for dunks and layups, he will be a complete player and an unstoppable force in the NBA.

9) Utah Jazz--Gordon Hayward, Butler

I wrote that there weren't ten players in this draft better than Gordon Hayward, and the Jazz apparently agreed with me.

I had him going to Indiana (10) because I had hometown syndrome and wanted to see him play for the Pacers, but I knew all along that Utah or the Clippers could throw a monkey wrench into the program.

I felt that Utah would be a great fit for him but had the Jazz taking Luke Babbitt so each player could play close to his hometown.

Although it didn't work out as I had hoped, it still worked out perfectly.

Hayward gets to play with Deron Williams, who will help Hayward improve his much-too-talked-about sophomore season three-point shooting by getting him the ball where he needs it to get good shots.

Hayward shot 44.8% from three as a freshman and 29.4% as a sophomore, and much has been made about this decline.

This is much ado about nothing.

What makes Hayward a great player is the fact that he is gritty. Whenever there is a loose ball on the floor, Hayward is diving all over it. Add that to his skill and basketball IQ, and you begin to understand what all the fuss is about.

He reminds me of Larry Bird in that sense, known for the glamour plays; but when you look closer you see someone who loves to mix it up and just makes whatever play is necessary to win the basketball game, be it a steal, a save, a rebound, a pass or whatever.

What was great about the Butler basketball team was the fact that they competed for every inch. Their whole team was like this. They were a bunch of bulldogs, and Hayward was right with them, making him the perfect kind of player for coach Jerry Sloan and the Jazz.

As far as his shot goes, he has great form and technique. It will come around.

This was a great pick by the Utah Jazz.

10) Indiana Pacers--Paul George, Fresno State

With Gordon Hayward off the board, Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers took the best available option in Paul George.

Hometown sentiments aside, this looks like a better fit for Indiana. They now have a team which is ready to go to the playoffs.

George and Danny Granger are a great look. Jordan and Pippen?

With George, Granger and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers have drafted their way to future success. TJ Ford happens to be one of my favorite players.

Indiana is easily playoff team with those four players starting and playing long minutes.

Ford may not fit in coach Jim O'Brien's offense though. He seems to like three-point shooters, something Ford is not. Ford is a playmaker, a playmaker now with many exciting options and possibilities.

All they have to do is come to some sort of agreement between coach and point guard, and Indiana will be a playoff team for many years to come and may even have a NBA title in their future.

16) Portland Trail Blazers--Luke Babbitt, Nevada

This was easily one of the steals of the draft.

Luke Babbitt couldn't have landed in a better situation. He gets to play with a fantastic point guard in Andre Miller and play off of an established offensive threat in Brandon Roy ... not to mention LaMarcus Aldridge.

Babbitt will probably be wide open all season long.

All he has to do is beat out Nicolas Batum, which shouldn't be hard, and he'll be in the starting lineup.

Portland was already in the playoffs last year, and this pick elevates them to another level.

In order for Babbitt to get the most time in coach Nate McMillan's lineup, he is going to have to play defense.

Nothing makes coach McMillan angrier than when one of his players allows someone to drive past them for an easy basket. So the first thing Babbitt has to dedicate himself to is keeping his man in front of him at all times.

This will maximize his time on the court because Babbitt's offensive game is there and can't be questioned.

This was a great pick by the Blazers, a trade to be specific, and Babbitt should advance them at least one round further in the playoffs. He is going to be a rock star in Portland.

33) Sacrament Kings--Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

I suggested that Golden State draft Whiteside at number five and still say that is the move they should have made rather than Ekpe Udoh from Baylor.

Instead of being the big man on campus for the Warriors, Whiteside now enters a crowded frontcourt in Sacramento with DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert.

He and Stephen Curry could have played together for a long time.

There aren't any players for the Kings who I am excited to see play. They are a long way from being a real NBA team.

This looks like nothing more than a development opportunity for Whiteside. We can only hope the Kings continue to build their roster and become competitive sometime soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I'm not going to sit here and try to project the entire 2010 NBA Draft. In any given draft, there ends up being only a handful of players who turn out to be great or even very good; and that is if the league is lucky.

That being the case, after researching almost every player projected to be drafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, I have narrowed my focus down to only the players who I feel will go on to have long, productive careers in the NBA, the best of the best.

I call them the "Spectacular Seven."

These players will be projected onto teams where they will fit in nicely. Many of these projections will differ greatly from mock drafts. That is because I am not doing a mock draft.

What I am doing is offering my analysis of where each member of the Spectacular Seven should go based on my estimation of how good he is compared to others in the draft and how much better he will fit in with the team than other players projected to go there.

To get right down to it, teams are being informed that they should not pass on a particular Spectacular Seven member should he be available when it is their turn to select, despite what all the "experts" think.

1) Washington Wizards--Evan Turner, Ohio State

Don't let anybody tell you that John Wall is a better basketball player than Evan Turner. While Wall has one of the greatest hype machines of all time, there is really no difference between the two players.

What separates the two is the needs of the team selecting. The Wizards already have Gilbert Arenas, one of the best players in the NBA, so they have no need for another point guard.

That makes Turner the best available player at a position of need and really makes this selection a no-brainer.

Here is Evan Turner's highlight reel. And another is here.

This is my win-now projection for the Wizards, which is all I have to go by.

I have no idea what goes on in private meetings between team executives and what their plans for the future are concerning Arenas. This projection is based on the Wizards' roster as it is currently constructed.

The Wizards have several nice pieces and are not far away from being back in the playoffs. JaVale McGee has a future in the NBA; other than his defensive rebounding, Andre Blatche is a nice player; Nick Young looks like he's ready to break out at any moment and become a star; and when healthy and not involved in antics from the OK Corral, Gilbert Arenas is one of the best players in the NBA.

That leaves the small forward position as the only hole in the Wizards' starting lineup, which means they should draft Evan Turner and leaves no question about it.

Turner teamed up with the four Wizards mentioned above is a solid, NBA starting five.

All the Wiz would have to do from there is add two more players off the bench to go with Randy Foye and Al Thornton, and they'll be ready to compete with anybody and go deep into the playoffs.

2) Philadelphia 76ers--John Wall, Kentucky

This is another no-brainer selection. The Sixers need a point guard, and John Wall is a point guard, end of story.

With all due respect to Jrue Holiday, Philadephia would be a much better team with Wall at the point and Holiday at the two.

Check out John Wall's highlights.

This pick doesn't take much explaining. Everyone already agrees that John Wall is Bob Cousy, Isiah Thomas, Kevin Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul all rolled into one; so him "falling" into Philadelphia's lap here at the two spot would make this an easy selection.

I admit that the draft probably won't go in this direction, but this is how the draft should go based on team needs, winning now and real player analysis minus hype.

By the way, I do believe John Wall is a great player.

3) New Jersey Nets--Paul George, Fresno State

This is my first real stretch here. Nowhere have I seen Paul George projected to go this high, but that is why I am the NBA Outsider.

I was this close to ranking George ahead of Evan Turner, but I watched Turner's highlights one more time and decided against it. But it was really close.

Paul George is better than all of the clowns projected to go ahead of him. I've watched their highlight reels and studied their game logs and gathered as much information as I possibly can, and Paul George is just better. It is really that simple.

And the New Jersey Nets should not pass on him when they draft.

The Nets are still a long way away from their glory days in the early 2000s, and no matter who they draft won't change that. The biggest hole in the New Jersey starting lineup is at small forward.

Even with the George pick, the Nets will need to add several more players to get back to the playoffs.

For those of you who think this is too high a position for George to be drafted, check out his highlight reel, where he looks like a cross between Bernard King, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

The most interesting part of George going to New Jersey would be that with George at the three and Terrence Williams at the two, the Nets will create a brand of basketball more exciting than their glory days nearly ten years ago.

For teams which can't win, the least they can do is be entertaining.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves--Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

I'm not going to sit here and waste my time writing about what Minnesota needs to do to win a championship because I don't believe they really want to win a championship.

They had Kevin Garnett in his prime and surrounded him with a championship caliber team only two (2003-2005) out of his twelve seasons there. They then traded him for peanuts and haven't been heard from since.

On the bright side, the Timberwolves do have Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer; so Johnson would seem to be a perfect fit. The team would then have to solidify the bench and see what happens.

Wesley Johnson looks like Shawn Marion with a jump shot, so I have nicknamed him The Matrix: Reloaded.

Here are his highlights.

6) Golden State Warriors--Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

This may be my most controversial projection, and Whiteside may be the most controversial member of the Spectacular Seven. All that aside, this is who the Warriors should select with their pick.

The most idiotic criticism I have read about Whiteside is that it can't be determined how good he really is because he played in a weak conference against inferior competition.

That dog don't hunt.

I watched LeBron James play one high school game against a bunch of six-footers and knew he was ready to play in the NBA, and I knew it mid-way through the first half.

The competition Whiteside played against at Marshall was much better than the players James played against on national television that night, so I would say he can be judged accurately, despite this so called lack of competition.

The other thing which makes this criticism ludicrous is the fact that Whiteside dominated the competition. Had he been average against average competition, that would be one thing; but average he was not.

Whiteside averaged more than five blocks per game, an impressive number by any measure. He also has a mid-range jump shot, yet critics still question his ability to score and call his offensive game "raw."

I don't see it, but you can judge for yourself by watching his highlights.

The bottom line is this: Whiteside can be only half as good as he was at Marshall and not improve one iota his entire career in the NBA, and he would still be two times better than every center the Warriors have had since Robert Parish.

Whiteside should be the Warriors' pick because he addresses the team's biggest need: defense/shot blocking.

No one in the draft does it better, and the Warriors better not select anyone other than Hassan Whiteside.

9) Utah Jazz--Luke Babbitt, Nevada

I sure do hope that the Jazz don't pass on drafting Luke Babbitt for some of the players I have seen them projected to take. Some of them won't last one minute in the NBA.

Babbitt, on the other hand, may have a long and storied career ahead of him, especially if he winds up in Utah and gets to play with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.

Luke Babbitt can score, and anyone who watched the Jazz get their butts kicked by the Lakers knows that what the team needs is someone who can put the ball in the basket, particularly in the last five minutes of the game.

During the final minutes of each of the first two games against the Lakers, Utah had the ball with a chance to take control of the game and change the series.

All they had to do was make a shot, and each time, the shot missed. Or there was a turnover or some otherwise bad execution. Deron Williams also missed a game-winner at the end of Game 3.

I'm not saying Luke Babbitt is the next Robert Horry and will make those shots.

I am saying that with his ability to score and pass and rebound and with him being an outstanding and highly-skilled basketball player, he will fit in perfectly with the team; and there is no one the Jazz should select ahead of him.

Take that into the playoffs and see what happens.

The preposterous criticism I've read about Babbitt is that he won't be able to guard anyone in the NBA. Anyone who puts their mind to it can be a good defensive player.

He may not make First Team All-Defense, but there is no reason why he can't be good.

Even more, for every great scorer at small forward like Carmelo Anthony there is a Shane Battier who can't score.

As for the great scorers like Anthony, other than a few players like Ron Artest, no one can guard them. So Babbitt won't be any different than anyone else in the NBA.

And let's not forget that this guy can score. In time he'll be able to go basket for basket with most of these guys, so at the very least the Jazz will break even in his matchups.

Here are his highlights. Watch for the ankle-breaker at 3:10.

10) Indiana Pacers--Gordon Hayward, Butler

I don't know what's wrong with the NBA. I don't see ten players better than Gordon Hayward.

The funny thing about Hayward is that his projections are all over the place, from top ten to the twenties. I have no idea what all of the questions are about?

Hayward is a baller.

With Gordon Hayward on the outside with Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert on the inside with Troy Murphy and TJ Ford at the point, the Indiana Pacers will be an extremely dangerous team.

They also have the beginnings of a nice bench, and Jim O'Brien isn't a bad coach.

With the selection of Hayward, things will definitely be looking up in Indiana; and the Pacers won't be far away from their glory days with Reggie Miller.

I am sure that Larry Bird has an appreciation for the type of player that Hayward is and may see a little of himself in Hayward, and he almost certainly won't pass on Hayward at number ten.

Here is Gordon Hayward's highlight reel.


15) Milwaukee Bucks--Trevor Booker, Clemson

Truth be told, Trevor Booker is every bit as good as the members of the Spectacular Seven.

The only reason why he wasn't included is because I discovered him after I had already named the group and liked the name so much that I didn't want to change it to the something eight.

He was also projected to go in the second round, and I felt it was too much of a stretch, even for me, the NBA Outsider, to put him where he should be based on my evaluation of his ability.

Since discovering him about a month ago, I see that he has crept into the end of the first round on at least one mock draft.

That being the case, I am more comfortable in projecting him where I feel he should be.

Trevor Booker is a beast, and any team which passes on him is going to seriously regret it.

Here are his highlights.

Watch the hustle play at 2:28 and tell me who wouldn't want this level of effort and desire on their squad.

He blocks shots, rebounds, plays defense, dunks ferociously and competes at an extremely high level. He can also score a little.

Him playing power forward next to Andrew Bogut will revolutionize the entire Milwaukee Bucks' team and the city of Milwaukee itself.

They will no longer be a soft, finesse team which can't defend, or score in, the paint.

Booker is an intimidator who will make opponents think twice about coming down the lane, especially in the playoffs when hard fouls become more common and acceptable.

With a healthy Michael Redd on the outside along with Brandon Jennings, the Bucks would be ready to go toe-to-toe with anyone.

On the Bucks' team website they have a motto which says, "Work Hard. Play Hard."

No motto better captures what Booker would mean to the identity of this team and the city of Milwaukee.

Milwaukee hasn't had this type of presence in the paint since the days of Bob Lanier, and I am sure the city will quickly fall in love with Booker and his hard-nosed style.


I am trying to keep a straight face here, but I can't help but laugh out loud when I see some of the players projected to be drafted highly in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Some of these guys couldn't carry water in the NBA, but some team is going to waste a pick on them; so I guess I have to say something about them.

Here are the players who I have looked at, and though they may be highly drafted, I just don't see it: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech; Cole Aldrich, Kansas, I'm peeing in my pants with laughter over here; Ed Davis, North Carolina.

Here are the players who didn't blow me away but who I want to see more of before drawing a final conclusion about what type of players they will be in the NBA: Greg Monroe, Georgetown; DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky; Daniel Orton, Kentucky; Larry Sanders, VCU; Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky.

Back to the Spectacular Seven, I am sure they will be receiving all sorts of advice on how live up to their potential become the player everyone expects them to be.

I also have some advice on how to accomplish this, and it is really simple: Go hard!

*I have to give credit to Jeff Fox at SLAM Online here. He was the first person who I saw rank Paul George and Luke Babbitt highly.